Just the one Group 1 race last weekend, but a host of races that will help shape some of the big races coming up in the next few weeks.
Here’s a look at some of the most talked about performances from Rosehill and Caulfield last Saturday.
This was a performance that puts this former import right in the frame for the very best races this spring. It was a race with very strong speed measures – fast pace, fast overall time – and he recorded a dominant 3.3L win.
In Australia his previous best was 97.4 in the Blamey (March 2017). This 105 is equal to our mark for his 3rd placing at G2 level at Chantilly in June 2016, which was over 2400m, providing us with good reason to be optimistic about his Caulfield Cup prospects – especially with 51.5kg.
As a guide, Jameka went 104.8 in the Naturalism last year before carrying 52.5kg to an impressive Caulfield Cup win. Relative to WFA, Harlem is 3kg better off than Jameka at the weights in this year’s race, underlining why we now regard him as a live hope in the big Melbourne Racing Club feature.
Brave Smash: 100
He has now been 100.9, 97 and 100 in three Australian starts. In that regards he’s been consistent and he was hardly disgraced in being narrowly beaten by Bons Away, who rated 98 (normalised to WFA). The 3kg Brave Smash gave Bons Away was a factor, but as an Everest slot holder, we really needed to see something more from him over the 1200m here. At this stage he’s around 2.5L to 3L off the mark that will be needed to be in the finish of the $10million race. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big jump for any horse to make that is reaching the upper end of the quality scale.
Trapeze Artist 105.5
A new star is born or flattered by a ridiculous early tempo? This represents a big new peak for Trapeze Artist, up from 98.5. It still falls short of the monster Golden Rose numbers returned by Astern (108.5) last year and Exosphere (107.5) in 2015.
The thing that stood out is the extreme level of fast early pace. It’s up there with the fastest first section ratings you’ll ever see. When we see such extremes in early pace, fast or slow, it raises a query about how true the face value of the form will turn out to be.
Is Trapeze Artist capable of running 105.5 when the pace is 12-15 lengths slower as we see in most races? That’s something only time will tell.
The stable is leaning towards one more run and then into the Coolmore Stud Stakes on Derby Day. The Coolmore is also the goal for Menari, who is likely to go into that race without another run.
At this stage we query whether Trapeze Artist can rate to a 105 mark dropping back from an incredibly high pressure 1400m race to 1200m up the Flemington straight, which is likely to be more evenly run.
Menari probably didn’t appreciate the extreme pace over 1400m and was galloped on during the run. The Coolmore looks a more suitable target and he’s still the benchmark 3YO this season, with 106.5 over the 1200m.
Champagne Cuddles 97.1
She has a peak of 98.3, so she’s run up to her form here. It’s important to remember that even though she finished second, she was still a big margin from the winner. It seems she is likely to back up in the Flight Stakes this Saturday. It will be a monster effort if she can endure such a hard run from Saturday and be at her best again this week, even if she is reverting back to her own sex.
Ace High 99.3
This Gloaming Stakes rating compares well to recent winners Veladero (96.5) and Vanbrugh (98). The latter went on to win the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes and Ace High looks hard to beat in this year’s 2000m feature, based on deeds to date.
Dont’ Give A Damn 92
The 6.5L margin made the win look very impressive and many have him pegged as a “very smart horse” after these first three starts. It’s worth highlighting however that he has only rated 92.
Why is that? It was a fast high pressure race and the reality is that the time was only moderate, even allowing for the fact that the Rosehill track was softer early in the day.
Further to that, while it looked like he was powering away from the opposition, they were slowing to a walk and he was simply slowing less than the others. His last 200m speed rating was significantly slower than any other winner on the day and in the context of a moderate overall time, it’s impossible to rate any higher.
At a 92 rating we would rate Don’t Give A Man more like a BM75 horse down on the limit weight. He needs to find another three to four lengths to get up towards the “smart horse” level.